Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not happy with the controversy over the land deals related to the Ram temple construction in Ayodhya. The temple construction committee is alleged to have bought land at exorbitant prices, much above the market rate. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is assessing the political impact of it before the coming Uttar Pradesh elections. Modi has asked the committee’s chairman Nripendra Misra, who was earlier his principal secretary, to give him a report. The land deal happened before Misra took charge. He is looking into the income tax reports of sellers. Besides Misra’s inquiry, the Prime Minister’s Office is also considering taking some action on the issue.
First, there was a leaked 22-year-old letter of Rajasthan BJP chief Satish Poonia in which he had been railing against senior BJP leaders of the time. The letter became an embarrassment for him. Now, in retaliation, an audio clip of former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who has been sidelined in the party, has surfaced. In the clip, Raje is telling someone who has launched a forum on her behalf to talk against the BJP state unit, and she is asking for the activities to be continued. The BJP central leadership is getting exasperated with the infighting and is now taking Raje’s anti-party activities seriously. Some strong action against her or some of her loyalist MLAs could follow soon.
The Pakistani prime minister, as a tradition, sends mangoes to his Indian counterpart every year. This year, the mangoes from Imran Khan have not reached New Delhi yet. Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sent boxes of her state’s famous langra and himsagar mangoes to Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind and Home Minister Amit Shah. West Bengal has been the hotbed of conflict between Trinamool Congress and BJP, but maybe the mangoes can sweeten the acrimony a little.
Enemy of the Enemy
Bihar’s Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad, recently released from prison, is said to have told his son Tejashwi Yadav, who is managing the party, to take on board Chirag Paswan, son of the late Ram Vilas Paswan, whose uncle has snatched the Lok Janshakti Party from him. They are now said to be in close contact. Two events are going to heat up the political atmosphere in the state. First, Lalu will address the party’s silver jubilee foundation day after a long gap. And in the other event, Chirag is going to undertake an ashirwad yatra (blessings tour) in his father’s home constituency. Lalu has been invited for the yatra too.
Haryana’s Congress leader and former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is not leaving the party, as has been speculated, but his son Deepender might do so. For a long time, he was not happy with the high command and is now forming a group to possibly float a separate party. In his Delhi residence, he organised a small luncheon at which another disgruntled Congress leader, Sachin Pilot, was also present. There was also Vikramaditya Singh, son of former Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, and Jayant Singh, son of the late Ajit Singh. They could all be putting
a new national party together for the 2024 General Election.
Biding Her Time
Deepa Dasmunsi, wife of late Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, had refused to join both BJP and Trinamool before the West Bengal election. Now, even after the late Pranab Mukherjee’s son joined Trinamool, she is still remaining with Congress even though her relationship with state president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is not smooth. She is keeping herself busy through art and is planning an exhibition of her paintings soon. The buzz is Sonia Gandhi told her to wait for changes that were going to happen in the party organisation. And in 2024, there could even be a Trinamool-Congress seat adjustment when she could contest from Dasmunsi’s old constituency where she won once.
In Punjab, the rift between Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu is not resolved yet and people are wondering what possible solution the Congress high command could arrive at. Can Sidhu be made Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president in place of Sunil Jakhar? Will Jakhar be ready to resign if he gets a state cabinet berth? Will the chief minister be ready to accept Sidhu as PCC president? Another old classic Congress formula is to make Sidhu election campaign committee chairman. Amarinder Singh has, however, become more adamant. He was in Delhi for a few days but Rahul Gandhi did not meet him. He thinks Sidhu is planning to join the Aam Aadmi Party, the reason why the ex-cricketer has become vocal about corruption in his government.
Congress leader and Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Jairam Ramesh recently came out with a book, The Light of Asia. It tells the story of a famous poem based on the life of the Buddha which captivated many iconic personalities like Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and BR Ambedkar. Ramesh sent a copy as a gift to Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu who read it and was apparently overwhelmed by the scholarship.